Cart empty
Shopping cartCart empty

What is in real dog food & what are TVP s ?

TVP not meatPreviously on my Dog Walkers Melbourne site I created an in depth article on the suspect ingredients included in many manufactured dog food. This was true for kibble (dry food) as well as wet (tinned dog food).

While the situation has not improved and you can still read the original article,I thought it was worthwhile summarising and updating the information here, including the nutritionally valuable part healthy dog treats can play in a dog’s regular diet.

Many people consider dog treats to be a luxury, unnecessary, expensive etc. This is probably because many of the dog treats you can buy in the supermarket are of less quality than the regular dog food they sell and are often highly inflated in price to pay for those animated national television campaigns.

The main premise for healthy dog food is that it has to be MEAT. Not a little, not processed, not just the flesh, no colours or additives. This is based on a well known fact that domestic dogs evolved from wolves about 15,000 years ago in China. Wolves primarily eat meat, and the whole of the animal when they can. Yes the scavenge, but the only vegetable matter they typically get is accidently while eating the contents of preys stomachs and some small forest berries. The outside of the domestic dog looks quite different from its ancestor the wolf, but the insides remain essentially unchanged in what they can digest.

What is in dry dog food?

Dry dog food is usually cheaper than canned dog foods on a weight basis. It can have more vitamins and minerals than wet food but often has high preservatives to allow it to be left opened for months at a time.

While dry dog food has been artificially formulated so a dog can survive on it, they will not flourish. Typically it contains many fillers and very little meat. It is often composed of corn or wheat which can cause allergies in dogs. Dogs can extract nutrients from the proteins of vegetables but their system works much harder to do so, and it isn’t the same protein that their carnivore bodies were created to process.

What is Wet dog food?

Most commercially canned foods are sterile so they are ‘safe’ for dogs. Unfortunately removing all naturally occurring bacteria etc that a dog would encounter in the wild means that a dog’s immune system is significantly compromised against any accidental attack that they would easily fend off in the wild. This is why the first time that a domestic dog actually eats real meat they can have a digestive reaction for the first few days as their body adjusts to eating REAL DOG FOOD.

Wet dog food often contains more protein and fat than dry dog food, but again this protein is usually not from meat, its is from the much cheaper plant variety. The ‘meaty chunks’ in wet dog food are usually composed of grain gluten and other protein gels. They have the texture of real meat but are 100% FAKE.

What is ‘Textured vegetable protein’ (TVP) & why is it in my dog food?

TVP is to dogs what soy bacon is to vegans: FAKE.

The next time you open up your can of wet dog food and see those beautiful ‘meaty chunks’ of goodness, perhaps you should turn the can around and look at the ingredient list. If real ‘wet’ meat is about 30% protein and your can is 10% what happened to the other 20%? More to the point how come your 10% is only one fifth meat off cuts?

Your flavoursome, lifelike, meaty chunks are actually more likely to be ‘Textured vegetable protein’ a clever meat look-alike substitute, used purely to fool you and save on costs. In fact there is no need to have these in the food for the dog, they are just there to make you feel better about your choices.

TVP in fact is usually composed of up to 50% soy protein, soy flour or concentrate, or may contain cotton seeds, wheat or oats. In wet composition TVP can supply up to 15% protein per volume,

What OTHER TRICKS are used by dog food manufacturers?

The ‘Typical analysis’ label only represents the food's minimum amount of protein, fat, carbohydrate and water. It makes no statement as to whether or not your dog can absorb or use the nutrients provided.

Does the food list the vitamins and minerals or just say it contains ‘essential vitamins and minerals’? Did you know that dog food SHOULD contain calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium & linoleic acid. Whereas cat foods should contain taurine and magnesium in appropriate quantities?

It is natural in the wild for a dog to consume almost the whole of the animal. However, for maximum profit, many manufacturers will only include the lowest cost parts of animals, the so called ‘animal by-products meal’, cheap grain meals (not even whole grains) and harsh chemicals – to make the meat taste more palatable, not actually healthy.

If you don’t believe that very few nutrients are actually being extracted and absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream consider this test. Release two identical looking dogs into an off lead dog park and watch the difference in the one fed meat and the one fed dry/wet manufactured dog food.  The dog with the massive stool volume and excess gas will be eating man made junk.

SPLITTING. This is the most complex tasks of label analysis. One you could avoid by giving your dog meat. Like human food, ingredients in dog food are listed in order of their weight – so the heaviest (and usually largest volume) ingredients, are listed first.

Manufacturers use splitting so they can list different components of the same ingredient as separate items on the label. For example, chicken and chicken meal are both chicken products. Similarly brown rice, white rice, rice, rice bran, rice gluten and rice flour are all forms of rice. While it is important to understand that not all forms of rice are nutritionally the same (brown is better than white, whole better than grain fragments etc) spitting is usually done to disguise what the bulk of the dog food contains – vegetable matter.

“Splitting” makes the ingredient list look much better than it really is. Rice is very cheap and to disguise it in your dry or wet food its forms are often listed separately. In this way, total rice products can comprise 60% of a dog food product and meat only 20%, but by listing the meat product first and then three or four individual rice products separately after that, it appears that the main ingredient is meat.

What to avoid in dog food: Artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners or artificial preservatives

What preservatives are good? Dog food should have natural preservatives, like vitamins E and C (tocopherols and ascorbic acid). Poor quality dog food still use BHT, BHA, and Ethoxyquin. These preservatives have long been banned from human food.

How can dog treats be good for a dog?

Well if they are made by a profit driven manufacturer, chances are that they are as bad if not worse for your dog than pellets or wet dog food. Cheaply made dog treats use all the same tricks as wet and dry dog food but can be worse because they often don’t fully disclose the ingredients, the ingredients are often mostly grain/ vegetables, and they can contain artificial colours, flavours and high doses of preservatives.

This HEALTHY DOG TREAT site promotes dog treats that are 100% meat. This means they are high in MEAT protein, high in essential fats, low in salt – just like REAL meat is. So if you are going to the trouble of feeding your dog a raw or natural meat diet, why would you also consider using healthy dog treats? For several reason.

If you feed your dog chicken or beef, you are probably feeding them flesh cuts like humans eat. These are very tasty, but a dog in the wild eats most of the animal, from fur to organs etc. While these mostly pass straight through they can have a cleansing action on the dog intestine and provide different levels of nutrients than that found in ‘regular meat’. That is why things like chicken meatballs, kangaroo meatballs etc, that contain more of the animal than just the flesh are an ideal supplement to your dog’s normal diet.

The beef jerky, kangaroo jerky and chicken breasts are dried flesh meat but because of the oven drying process, the goodness is preserved and the toughness of the meat makes your dog chew longer and helps clean your dog’s teeth.

If your dog is only used to eating beef and chicken, introducing a new meat such as kangaroo can benefit its immunity system by providing different meat proteins.


Article by Bruce Dwyer. If you wish to use any of this information please refer to the article as a reference and provide a link to

Recommended Products